How to halve your grocery bill

According to the most recent Household Expenditure Survey from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2009–10, on average, Australians spend more than $200 per week on groceries.

Aside from housing costs, groceries take up a major portion of our income. In fact, CHOICE’s Consumer Pulse Survey in March revealed that 75 per cent of Australians are concerned about increasing food and grocery expenses and, in these difficult times, are looking to cut back on costs anywhere they can.

When it comes to grocery shopping, savings, low prices and value for money are more important to Australian consumers than shopping experience, inspiration and, surprisingly, food quality and freshness. So which of the major shopping chains can provide Australians with the savings they so sorely desire?

The last time CHOICE conducted such a survey was in 2009, and German discount chain Aldi took out the gold when it came to providing the cheapest groceries. Aldi performed so well in this area that the discount chain actually brought down the prices of the other major players, such as Coles and Woolworths supermarkets.

So, in 2015, which supermarket offers shoppers the lowest prices?

To find out, CHOICE wrote a shopping list and sent undercover shoppers into 93 supermarkets across 17 cities around Australia. These surveyors collected price data on 31 different products at each supermarket, including a mix of leading brands and private label equivalents (products made by another company but sold under the supermarket’s own branding, such as Woolworths’ Macro or Select range), as well as fresh, unbranded produce.

The results showed that Coles’ and Woolworths’ advertised everyday low prices are still no match for Aldi’s overall lower grocery costs.

In fact, a shopping basket cost $87.29 more from Coles ($174.97) and $89.09 more from Woolworths ($176.77) than the equivalent basket from Aldi ($87.68). Going by these figures, shoppers can save around 50 per cent on their grocery bill by shopping at Aldi supermarkets.

Such savings should be enough for shoppers to head to their nearest Aldi store, but what if there isn’t one close by? For lower grocery bills in the absence of an Aldi store, CHOICE recommends shopping around for specials and choosing private labels over leading brands.

Would these results lead you to consider shopping at the German Aldi stores over Australian-owned Coles stores? Would you be prepared to travel extra distance in order to save around 50 per cent on your grocery bill? Do you know of any other ways to buy quality groceries at cheaper prices, such as farmers’ markets or ‘direct from importer’ outlets?

Read more about the CHOICE Supermarket Price Survey.

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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